13 S. Black Horse Pike, Mount Ephraim, NJ 08059
Hours: Mon- Sat: 9 AM – 3 AM (?), Sun: 9 AM – Midnight
~ A guest review ~
I wanted to write my first Bottom Feeder review on Guiseppi’s because we have history together. I grew up in Mount Ephraim, and it was well known around R.W. Kershaw Middle School that when you turned 16 you could get served at “Zepps”. All kinds of wild stories came from my friends’ high school-aged older brothers who would be out late underage drinking. It’s fair to say that alcoholism was revered amongst the 6th grade crew – talking about how shit faced we were going to get in like 5 or 6 years was an absolute highlight of my youth. However, somehow I missed my chance to imbibe here as a minor. But now as a legal adult, I was ready to embark on this rite of passage.
To get in the door we had to step over some townies sitting outside on the green AstroTurf-covered steps smoking their Newports. As we crossed the threshold, the floor of the breezeway bows under my feet, which is a HUGE boost for my self-confidence. We emerge into the surprisingly well-lit bar that is staffed by two bartenders drinking Red Bulls at 11:30 on a Friday night. The bar is mostly empty except for one of my classmates from middle school who introduces us to one of the bartenders, Pooter, who I’m told is one of the owners. Everyone is perched on the short side of the rectangular bar, eyes glued to one of those enormous square flat TVs from 1997. They’re watching a 30-for-30 on ESPN about the OJ Simpson Trial, discussing what kind of car is ideal for a police chase. I chimed in and asked “Is it just me or does OJ kind of look like a potato?” I think he does.
The cute ginger bartender makes her way over to us to take our order. When we ask “What’s on special?” she just kind of looks at us and shrugs. We follow up with “What’s cheap?” To which she says, “Miller LITE is always $2.50.” I elect to go with a pour of Old Grandad because the high proof will likely disinfect whatever is growing in my glass.
So we settled in and finished watching the 30-for-30. I get to talking to my middle school bud who fills me in on Giuseppi’s. Apparently they get really busy after 2AM when all the other bars close. Pooter keeps the bar open until he gets tired, which I’ve been told can be after the sun comes up. At whatever point the bar does close, everyone just walks home because the town is only one square mile, and because after a night of binge drinking, you know… safety first.
Eventually what seems like my entire high school class shows up to the bar – and maybe I’m drunk by now – but it seems like a fun atmosphere. While my memory gets a little murky after this, I do know that the entire bar took a shot of Crème De Menthe together. Everyone seemed to regard it as a fine South Jersey delicacy, and I didn’t have to pay for it.
Guiseppi’s is the shell of what used to be a nice place to get an Italian dinner. There’s a remnant of the old dining room off to the side, and cheesy stone on the walls with archways in between the rooms. The drop ceiling does a weird chicane over the bar and is all sorts of different shades of yellow. Somehow I get the vibe that even in its glory days, Guiseppi’s was the kind of place that you could rip a line of blow right at the table while waiting for your Pasta e Fagioli to show up.
Let’s face it: Giuseppi’s is a DEEP dive of a bar. It’s dirty. I wouldn’t dare order food since Black Horse Diner is right across the street. The men’s room had bars on the windows, and no door on the stall. But the people are friendly, the Crème De Menthe was cold, and everybody knew my name.